India–United Kingdom relations : Updates

RISING SUN

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‘India vs UK’ review: A victory for diplomacy​

In his book, India vs UK, Syed Akbaruddin narrates the story of an unprecedented diplomatic win in 2017, complete with twists and turns, in the campaign for India’s candidature in the election to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Written in first person, the narration flows like a story with anecdotes culled from his diary which he kept during his stint as India’s Permanent Representative to the UN from 2016-2020.

David and Goliath
The author describes the nail-biting finish in the elections with the contest narrowing down to two sitting judges — Dalveer Bhandari of India and Christopher Greenwood of the U.K. The ongoing Kulbhushan Jadhav trial at the ICJ added a sense of urgency for India. The ICJ election was sui generis in which the results were announced simultaneously in both the Security Council and General Assembly and stretched over several rounds. The U.K.’s significant global campaign was formidable given that it had an early lead of five permanent members in its kitty by virtue of being a member of the Security Council. In contrast, India was at a disadvantage of having fielded its candidate rather late.

The author’s research into past trends of ICJ elections reveals some interesting insights; that the real battleground is not the Security Council but the General Assembly and also that progress in subsequent rounds actually hold the key for a successful outcome. More than the candidate’s virtues of knowledge, a sustained campaign, left to diplomats to square off in a long period of toil, mattered the most.

Quiet work ethic
The author gives a glimpse into how the wheels of Indian diplomacy move worldwide to serve the national cause. Believing in quiet diplomacy focused on outcome rather than reward, the author meticulously built a versatile team that was committed to the cause with freedom to speak its mind.

As part of the campaign strategy, he reached out to his counterparts at a personal level; guided Indian missions abroad; and persuaded Headquarters to make appropriate interventions at the Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and the Prime Ministerial level.

The author also gives a sense of the enormous logistics challenges that the mission faces during the Leaders’ Week at the UNGA in September. Countering false narratives on Kashmir, terrorism, the Doklam standoff, etc. were other imperatives for the mission during the campaign.

Often UN election uncertainties risk corroding one’s belief in the possibility of a win. At one time, there was talk of India sharing tenure with the U.K. as a possible way out. But India’s sustained campaign dramatically diminished support for the U.K. at the UNGA. The U.K.’s desperate attempts to set up a Joint Conference, under Article 12 (1) of the ICJ statute, to decide the outcome by a select group of countries, failed as it got exposed of stalling a democratic exercise of voting. The U.K.’s suggested compromises and negotiated outcomes were resisted in the firm belief that it was no longer an individual fight from which one could walk away, nor afford to lose.

As the author kept the faith and held on to his horses, the U.K. caved in and conceded. The win also reiterated the importance of India to the UN membership.
India vs UK; Syed Akbaruddin, HarperCollins, ₹599.
The reviewer is a serving Indian Foreign Service Officer, currently working in the Ministry of External Affairs.
 
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UK is Auctioning Tipu Sultan's Throne Finial Worth Rs 14 Crore it Looted From India​

An old saying goes, “You can’t put a price on something invaluable." If ‘something invaluable’ was looted goods, the UK government may be proving you wrong: UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s is auctioning off a throne finial it stole from India, at a price of £1.5 million, or Rs 14,98,64,994 (14 crore 98 lakh 64 thousand and nine hundred ninety four). Listed as the “Throne finial" the throne also has an export ban. The gold tiger head, which once belonged to the throne of Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan in 18th century India, was on Friday placed under a temporary export bar in an attempt to find a United Kingdom buyer for it. The finial, or a crowning ornament that has been put under an export bar placed by the British government is used to allow time for a UK gallery or institution to acquire the piece of historic value. The finial is one of eight gold tiger heads that adorned the throne of the ruler, famously known as the “Tiger of Mysore."

“This fascinating finial illustrates the story of Tipu Sultan’s reign and leads us to examine our imperial history," said UK Arts Minister Lord Stephen Parkinson, reported PTI. “I hope a UK-based buyer comes forward so that we can all continue to learn more about this important period in our shared history with India," he said. UK’s Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport put out a tweet sharing “A £1.5 million throne finial is at risk of leaving the UK. An export bar has been placed on the Tipu Sultan Throne finial to give time for an organisation or individual to purchase it. Interested? Contact the Committee’s Secretariat on 0845 300 6200 "

A £1.5 million throne finial is at risk of leaving the UKAn export bar has been placed on the Tipu Sultan Throne finial to give time for an organisation or individual to purchase it.
Interested? Contact the Committee’s Secretariat on 0845 300 6200 #TipuSultan #Art pic.twitter.com/Lf6ElSjB1U
— DCMS (@DCMS) November 12, 2021
The tweet, along with the move was met with intense backlash on social media, with many pointing out the irony and tone-deafness of trying to sell a looted item and then banning people from that country from potentially buying it with an export ban.


Some of our museums would be emptyThe British Museum might have to find actual British things to display
— matt_oslo (@OsloMatt) November 15, 2021
It was looted by the East India Company armies from the defeated Tipu Sultan’s throne room.— Dr Katherine Schofield (PhD) (@katherineschof8) November 15, 2021
I’m not sure “finders keepers, losers weepers” is a strong position legally or diplomatically, to be honest…— Caz (@skippity_doo) November 15, 2021
Wasn’t it stolen? Shouldn’t it be returned? I believe that the answer is yes @DCMS— Melissa Kate Maynard (@mkatemaynard) November 15, 2021
They say it is closely connected to “their” history ‍♂️ https://t.co/1VdywjMQ7o— Harkirat Singh (@harkirat1892) November 16, 2021
It’s kinda even more closely connected to Indian history…in that it’s ours? https://t.co/yZvkg5onxS— Meghna Jayanth (@betterthemask) November 15, 2021
Didn’t the East Indian company steal this? https://t.co/PFpR4ME4Xq— Dr Maria W. Norris she/her (@MariaWNorris) November 15, 2021
The finial, made of gold and set with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, is described as a rare example of fully documented 18th century South Indian goldsmiths’ work and its existence was unknown until 2009. Its marble pedestal is unique among the five surviving finials known, and the meaning of its gold inscription is still a mystery.

The decision on the export licence application for the finial has been deferred until February 11, 2022, which may be extended until 11 June 2022 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of GBP 1.5 million. The minister’s decision follows the advice of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), which agreed that it is an important symbolic object in Anglo-Indian history in the last years of the 18th century.

“Tipu Sultan’s golden and bejewelled throne (c.1787-93) was broken up by the British army’s Prize Agents after Tipu’s defeat and death in defence of his capital, Seringapatam, in 1799. This tiger’s head is one of the original eight, which were placed on the balustrade of the octagonal throne," said RCEWA Member Christopher Rowell. “This tiger’s head, one of four throne finials to survive, including a head in the Clive Museum at Powis Castle (NT), should remain in the country together with the other fragments of the throne, and I hope that every effort will be made to achieve this," he said.

Rowell explained that each gold tiger’s head from the railing is slightly differently set with gemstones, which makes this example both part of a set and unique in its design. Its quality attests to the expertise of Tipu Sultan’s goldsmiths and jewellers, in whose productions he took a close personal interest. The head of the large gold rock crystal tiger, which supported the throne, and a bejewelled huma bird, which perched on the pinnacle of its canopy, were presented to Britain’s George III and Queen Charlotte.

“The tiger and its stripes were Tipu Sultan’s personal symbols. ‘Better to live one day as a tiger than 1,000 years as a sheep’ he famously declared. His flirtation with Napoleonic France led to his downfall at British hands," added Rowell.

Tipu Sultan was regarded as the greatest threat to the British East India Company until his defeat and death in 1799. As ruler of Mysuru, Tipu identified himself and his personal possessions with tiger imagery and experts believe this finial offers scholars the opportunity to illustrate the vibrant culture of Tipu Sultan’s court and closely examine British imperial history. Three surviving contemporary images of the throne are all in the UK. Tipu’s defeat had great historical significance to Britain’s imperial past, leading to a contemporary fascination with Tipu’s story and objects. Following his defeat, many objects from Tipu’s treasury arrived in Britain, where they influenced poetry (John Keats), fiction (Charles Dickens; Wilkie Collins), artists (J M W Turner) and attracted much public interest.

The RCEWA made its recommendation to ministers on the grounds that the finial’s departure from the UK would be a “misfortune" because it is so closely connected with the UK history and national life and is of outstanding significance for the study of royal propaganda and 18th-century Anglo-Indian history.
 

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Tata Steel wins Dogger Bank gig

22 December 2021
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Manufacturer will supply materials for turbine transition pieces. (Representative Image)

UK-made steel from the country’s largest producer Tata will be used to build the 3600 MW Dogger Bank wind farm, due to be complete by 2026. Dogger Bank A and B is a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40%), Equinor (40%) and Eni (20%).

In November 2021 SSE Renewables and Equinor, 50:50 joint venture partners in Dogger Bank C, announced Eni will take a 20% stake in the final phase, with SSE Renewables and Equinor maintaining 40% stakes each, in a deal which is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2022 subject to regulatory approvals.

In the first two phases of construction the vast GE Renewable Energy turbines, each one rated at 13 GW, will sit on foundations featuring Tata Steel products used in safety-critical transition pieces.

These steel structures form the junction between the tower above the surface of the sea and the foundations below the water.

Fabrication companies Sif and Smulders were awarded contracts to provide the wind turbine foundations for the first two phases of Dogger Bank in November 2020, with Dogger Bank C awarded a year later

Steel made in Tata Steel’s Port Talbot plant and processed into hollow sections at the company’s Corby and Hartlepool sites is being fabricated by one of the thousands of contract companies helping to build the first two phases of the wind farm.

Tata Steel UK chairman Sandip Biswas said: "We are proud to be able to help support UK jobs and manufacturing through this project."

Hundreds of tonnes of Tata Steel products, able to endure the harsh North Sea conditions, will be used in the first two phases of the giant wind farm project, which is located 130 kms off the North East coast of England.

Dogger Bank Wind Farm project director Steve Wilson said: "This is another great example of how we’re taking advantage of UK skills and expertise to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

"Our transition pieces are among the largest to be installed on an offshore wind farm, and this UK-manufactured steel will form some of the supporting components.

"Dogger Bank Wind Farm is already creating or supporting more than 3,000 jobs in the UK supply chain, and giving companies the chance to work on a pioneering project which will help them become increasingly competitive as the world adapts to produce energy that doesn’t cost the earth."

Tata Steel wins Dogger Bank gig

Tata Steel UK plant helps build world's largest offshore wind farm

By PTI, Last Updated: Dec 22, 2021, 05:20 PM IST
1640238006032.png

Synopsis
Tata Steel is one of Europe's leading steel producers, with steelmaking in the Netherlands and the UK, and manufacturing plants across Europe. The company supplies high-quality steel products to the most demanding markets, including construction and infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering. The work for the wind farm is being carried out by one of its many contract companies.


Steel made at Tata Steel's Port Talbot plant in Wales is behind the world's largest offshore wind farm due to be completed by 2026, the Indian steel major said on Wednesday.

The Dogger Bank Wind Farm, capable of providing green energy for 6 million homes in the UK, will make use of steel processed into hollow sections at the Indian steel major's Corby and Hartlepool sites in north-east England and fabricated to build the first two phases of the wind farm.

Tata Steel said hundreds of tonnes of its products, able to endure the harsh North Sea conditions, will be used for the giant wind farm project located 130 km off the north-east coast of England.

"We are proud to be able to help support UK jobs and manufacturing through this project," said Sandip Biswas, Chairman of the Board of Tata Steel UK.

"Huge amounts of steel will be needed to help the UK achieve its net-zero goals - to build everything from renewable energy and low-CO2 transportation to hydrogen production and distribution. At the same time, we have targets for our own de-carbonisation as a steelmaker.

"Our own transition to a decarbonised future will rely on a secure supply of competitively priced renewable energy - whether that be to create hydrogen for future steelmaking or power new low-CO2 furnaces. The more we can help in delivering these landmark projects the better," he said.

The Dogger Bank wind farm is being developed in three 1.2 gigawatt (GW) phases - Dogger Bank A, B and C.

"This is another great example of how we're taking advantage of UK skills and expertise to build the world's largest offshore wind farm," said Steve Wilson, Dogger Bank Wind Farm Project Director.

"Our transition pieces are among the largest to be installed on an offshore wind farm, and this UK-manufactured steel will form some of the supporting components," he said.

Dogger Bank A and B is a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40 per cent), Equinor (40 per cent) and Eni (20 per cent).

In November 2021, SSE Renewables and Equinor, 50-50 joint venture partners in Dogger Bank C, announced Eni will take a 20 per cent stake in the final phase, with SSE Renewables and Equinor maintaining 40 per cent stakes each, in a deal which is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2022 subject to regulatory approvals.

In the first two phases of construction the vast GE Renewable Energy turbines, each one rated at 13 megawatts (MW) - enough to power a home for two days with a single rotation - will sit on foundations featuring Tata Steel products used in safety-critical transitions pieces. These steel structures form the junction between the tower above the surface of the sea and the foundations below the water.

Fabrication companies Sif and Smulders were awarded contracts to provide the wind turbine foundations for the first two phases of Dogger Bank in November last year, with Dogger Bank C awarded a year later.

Tata Steel is one of Europe's leading steel producers, with steelmaking in the Netherlands and the UK, and manufacturing plants across Europe. The company supplies high-quality steel products to the most demanding markets, including construction and infrastructure, automotive, packaging and engineering. The work for the wind farm is being carried out by one of its many contract companies.

Tata Steel UK plant helps build world's largest offshore wind farm
 

RISING SUN

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Dec 3, 2017
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UK Planning Cheaper, Easier Visas For Trade Deal With India​

London:
The UK is planning to relax immigration rules by offering cheaper and easier visas for Indian tourists, students and professionals, in an attempt to clinch a trade deal with India, a media report said on Saturday.

UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is expected to travel to New Delhi this month, when formal negotiations on a proposed India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) are expected to begin.

Trevelyan is expected to use this visit to open the prospect of relaxing immigration rules for Indian citizens, a key demand from New Delhi, The Times newspaper reported.

While she has the backing of Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, who has put securing closer ties with India on top of the government's agenda to counter the growing influence of China, Home Secretary Priti Patel is opposed to this move, the report said.

In May last year, Ms Patel had signed a 'bespoke' and reciprocal Migration and Mobility Partnership (MMP) with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to have around 3,000 students and professionals a year access work experience benefits in either country.

Under the MMP, both sides have agreed to work towards an April 2022 timeline to bring the new system in place, with work underway in the High Commission in London and the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

However, under further immigration plans reportedly in the works, one option being looked at is a scheme similar to that agreed as part of the UK's FTA with Australia, which would allow young Indians the chance to come and work in the UK for up to three years.

Another option would be to cut visa fees for students, thereby allowing them to stay in the UK for a period after they graduate, possibly building upon the Graduate Route visa under the points-based immigration rules currently in place, the report said.

There could also be reductions in the fees for work and tourism visas.

At present, it can cost an Indian citizen up to GBP 1,400 for a work visa, while students pay GBP 348 and tourists GBP 95 respectively.

These are in sharp contrast with visa fees for countries such as China, who have to pay significantly less.

Indian-origin peer Lord Karan Bilimoria, the president of the Confederation of British Industry, has been among the most vocal advocates for lowering visa fees for Indians.

"That FTA, I hope, will benefit in enhancing bilateral trade and be as comprehensive as possible. Movement of people; reduction of duties and tariffs - the tariff on Scotch whisky is 150 per cent, that's got to be reduced drastically; academic collaborations and cross-border research is going to be huge between our countries and partnering on a Green industrial revolution. There is a vast array to really ramp up business and trade between our two countries," he had said.

A senior government source told 'The Times' that there was an acceptance by ministers that the price of a trade deal with India would be to make a "generous" offer on visas.

"The tech and digital space in India are still hugely protectionist and if we could open up even a slither of access, it would put us ahead in the game," a government official was quoted as saying.

The UK government has repeatedly said it wants a deal that slashes barriers for doing business with India.

According to the Department for International Trade, preparations for the launch of negotiations for the UK-India FTA 'remains underway' since the conclusion of bilateral working groups.

Trevelyan and her Indian counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, had also held talks during the G-20 trade ministers meeting in Sorrento, Italy, last October to discuss "final preparations" for the launch of India-UK FTA negotiations this year.

"We look forward to launching negotiations early this year. India is projected to become the world's third largest economy by 2050, and a trade deal will open huge opportunities for UK businesses to trade with India's GBP 2 trillion economy," a UK government spokesperson said.